We already attempted to predict Dallas in 2025. In this article, we’ll try to project Fort Worth a few years out. Next week, we’ll try Collin County.
The big part of the story is growth
As of mid-2019, depending on what metrics you use or who you listen to, Fort Worth is the third-fastest-growing city in America. City government on the west side of the Metroplex has suggested 1M+ residents close to 2030, with potentially over 1M jobs in the Metroplex in the same period. (Those numbers count Dallas and Mid-Cities jobs, but still represent a 44% or so increase.) Last summer, The Star-Telegram predicted thousands of new downtown Fort Worth residents by mid-2022.
This brings us to the second picture: jobs
In 2017, XTO Energy relocated hundreds / low thousands of jobs from downtown Fort Worth to Houston (XTO is part of Exxon). Immediately after, there were lots of articles about Fort Worth’s “oil culture” persisting. The “oil culture” certainly drives Fort Worth from a money perspective -- aerospace, defense, and cattle/farming would be other big areas -- and oil has been down for a percentage of 2020. (Google is actually stopping production of AI tools for oil and gas.)
More recently, PierOne Imports -- which is FTW-based -- announced its closing, which will cost the area some white-collar jobs. There have been other companies coming into the area, including Black and Decker (500 or so jobs), but there are questions about the “tech” and “cloud” style jobs driving much of the broader U.S. economy, and the Dallas economy to some extent.
That said, there’s a random creative class in The Fort, driven by a bunch of marketing and advertising agencies.
The demographic picture
Fort Worth is going through what a lot of big cities go through: the power brokers of the city tend to be older and white, from a specific background in terms of education and industry, but that doesn’t broadly reflect the upcoming population of the city.
In fact, on the exact same day my ex and I decided to split up, I ended up going to an event featuring Ross Perot’s son and some other DFW leaders -- and, head swimming about various relationship things, one thing that always stood out from that day was this stat: 65% of Fort Worth K-6th grade population is Hispanic or African-American, but the breakdown on the previous Mayoral election at that point had been mostly 54- to 68-year-old white people. That’s a disconnect, and Fort Worth has to grapple with the demographics of its past, present, and future as much as anyone.
What about COVID?
Fort Worth still has space and development opportunities, as opposed to Dallas County, which seems largely “built out.” COVID might be a hiccup, but you’ll still see development in Tarrant County. The overall market is staying relatively strong.
What about neighborhoods?
There’s a lot of growth in different Fort Worth neighborhoods in terms of renting and buying, from downtown to Arlington Heights/Alamo Heights (two sides of I-30) to Near Southside/Magnolia, Wedgewood, Ridglea, Sunset Heights, Southwest, and more. Here’s everything we work with from downtown fanning out.
With the music angle and lots of bars opening angle, is Fort Worth the new Austin?
Some have made this argument. Austin devotees would probably scoff at this, and Austin’s highly-compensated jobs picture (think “big tech”) is likely further along. I did attend an event at Amon Carter Museum called “Party on the Porch” last year (good event, go next year even if you’re a Dallas person … and it actually happens), and said event was selling shirts saying “Fort Worth is the new Austin.” The shirts were selling, although a few people who walked by were like “WTF is this all about?” So is it ready to assume the mantle of the new Austin or next Austin? Probably not. But it has some elements.